Southwestern Humor Criticism: Mark Twain - Essay

William C. Havard (essay date spring 1964)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Havard, William C. “Mark Twain and the Political Ambivalence of Southwestern Humor.” Mississippi Quarterly 17, no. 2 (spring 1964): 95-106.

[In the following essay, Havard argues that “Mark Twain was the first and probably the sole authentic genius to rise to the level of literary artistry directly out of the broad framework of frontier humor” but notes that his humor prevented his being taken seriously on political social matters.]

The interpretation of the humorist literary tradition of the Old Southwest has been almost as various as the critics who have interpreted it and nearly as broad as the range of the subject itself. And it is appropriate that...

(The entire section is 5499 words.)

Leland Krauth (essay date October 1982)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Krauth, Leland. “Mark Twain: The Victorian of Southwestern Humor.” American Literature 54, no. 3 (October 1982): 368-84.

[In the following essay, Krauth analyzes the literary influence of New England Victorianism on Mark Twain's Southwestern humor stories.]

When Mark Twain moved into the New England culture, first in 1870 to its edge at Buffalo, and then in 1871 to one of its centers at Hartford's Nook Farm, he came doubly disguised. Truly from the South, he came to New England as a man from the West, and even his Western identity was itself partially concealed by his fame as the all-American traveler of The Innocents Abroad. While it is hyperbolic...

(The entire section is 7056 words.)